‘Weetabix’ flats plan off Leith Walk rejected

The old Royal Mail site. Picture: Malcolm McCurrach
The old Royal Mail site. Picture: Malcolm McCurrach
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PLANS to build flats likened to Weetabix blocks on the site of a former bus depot have met a sticky end.

Developer Barratt wanted the cereal-shaped flats on land which also used to be home to Royal Mail sorting office off Leith Walk.

The original plans for the development were vetoed by Edinburgh City Council planners, and now the Evening News can reveal an appeal to the Scottish Government reporter has also been refused.

Last night, members of the heritage group the Cockburn Association said of the plans: “There was an awful lot wrong about it and, to be honest, it is hard to say anything good about it.”

Developers had moved to overturn a decision to refuse the 241-flat complex at Brunswick Road, which city planners had described as resembling a Soviet army camp.

However, the Holyrood reporter, Richard Bowden, upheld the council’s concerns about the scale and quality of housing concluding that “the proposal still lacks coherence and connectivity and would result in a characterless development offering poor residential amenity”.

Barratt East Scotland and Long Harbour, the firms behind the project, are understood to be dismayed at the double failure, which has forced them back to the drawing board.

The four-block development was to comprise one- and two-bedroom properties which failed to impress planning chiefs who face a huge struggle to deliver about 30,000 new properties by 2024.

In a bizarre turn, Barratt later claimed its planning bid had been “placed at an unfair disadvantage” because of live tweeting during the hearing.

The developer called online remarks by Euan Leitch, then assistant director of the Cockburn Association, a “running commentary from an egotistical consultee” and suggested his actions were a “contributing factor in the derailment of the application” which had been recommended for approval.

“Overt” lobbying of councillors before and during the meeting, claimed Barratt, was “highly questionable from a professional and ethical point of view” and suggested the prospect of live tweeting should have been made clear.

Councillors on the committees refrain from commenting publicly on upcoming applications, fearing their remarks could prejudice the case.

Speaking in a personal capacity, Mr Leitch today reacted to the Scottish Government reporter’s ruling by saying it was “reassuring”. He agreed with the Cockburn’s comments and that “consent was refused because it was poor design not because of Twitter”.

Mr Leitch added: “Design matters to communities and the reporter’s decision should give members of the planning committee confidence to refuse consent when the design is substandard, as it was in this case.

“Hopefully Barratt will do better with their next proposals for the site, which everyone agrees is a superb location.”

Marion Williams, director of the Cockburn Association, said it was “obvious” the reporter would agree with the grounds for refusal because there was “good reason”.